Are you a Grumpy Supply Chain Professional?

Are you a grumpy supply chain professional? Do you regularly go home unhappy from your day job? Then you need an imaginary rubbish bin…

Grumpy Supply Chain Pro

Going home unhappy again?

It all started this morning. Someone forgot to get bread yesterday, and the anticipated tasty tuna on nice crusty bread for lunch today, turned into tuna on stale Saladas. The first reason to be annoyed!

You’ve just missed the 06.40 into the city for that big logistics presentation and the next train is 13 minutes away. The crowd of commuters is getting bigger by the minute, and guess who’s going to be standing all the way into the city.

To annoy you further, someone who forgot to manage their body hygiene is standing up close and personal to you. Starting to get Irritable?

And what about that teenager who “shares” the latest Justin Bieber contribution to the world through her scratchy sounding iPhone speaker?

You eventually get to work, and the office prankster has pinched your chair, and replaced it with the one with the dodgy wheels. The phone is already screaming at you, and the operations managers is heading your way, looking like he’s just got a parking ticket.

Now it’s anxiety that’s kicking in.

Fight or Flight Infographic

And your office nemesis is giving you an evil smirk. Just another day in your supply chain organisation.

What to do?

But what can you do to help this, particularly when the working day is over? A couple of choices can be made. The ones you usually make…

  • expect a re-run of the morning commute,
  • get home, walk in and start yelling “because the bins are not out for collection”, and the TV is too loud!
  • the kids have heard you, and bolted from the house into the backyard or bedrooms,
  • the dog is under the table trembling and your partner has lost that “glad to see you look”.

Or you can start to practice some new skills and rituals to prepare yourself for “home reintegration” – a fancy term for getting your head in the right space!

So when you walk into what is meant to be your sanctuary with people you love and care about, it becomes exactly that. You could also call it managing your stress levels!

How to do this

At work, just before you leave your cubicle or exit the building, go through a process of “shaking off” all the bad stuff that has stuck to you over the day.

If you have ever seen a wet dog at the beach shake itself, that’s what you do! Now, if you’re feeling a little self-conscious, just imagine it, but make the process as real as possible.

Some people find that before leaving their desk that figuratively throwing that imaginary rubbish into the office bin works well too.

You can have specific landmarks on the way home from work, like a particular roundabout on the road, or the “Myki touch on pad” at the train station.

Get creative and make it a powerful daily routine.

And of course, use the breathing technique, on the train back home or just before you get out of the car.

Breathe Infographic

 

So give these tips a go…and be Grumpy no more?!

How to Introduce a Sustainable Procurement Strategy

Although the theory is well regarded, the practical aspects of introducing a sustainable procurement strategy are often overlooked.

Sustainable Procurement Strategy

This article is by Gerard Chick, Chief Knowledge Officer, Optimum Procurement Group.

About 10 years ago the UK government started taking the pursuit of sustainable procurement seriously. They established a task force of industry experts to try to define ‘sustainable procurement’, and develop appropriate standards for general deployment.

The Government’s goal was position the UK at the forefront of sustainable procurement in Europe by 2009. Their framework and recommendations have been instrumental in guiding sustainable procurement strategy, theory and practice across the globe.

What is Sustainable Procurement?

So what is this thing we call sustainable procurement? Sir Neville Simms, chair of the UK Procurement Task Force, described it as the use of procurement “…to support wider social, economic and environmental objectives, in ways that offer real long-term benefits” to organisations and the communities in which they exist.

These long-term benefits include:

  • The achievement of significant savings by focusing on a “whole life costing” methodology for procurement.
  • The incorporation of the “three Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), to cut waste and improve the efficiency of resources.
  • The enhancement of businesses public image, by demonstrating a sustainable approach to business, and championing related environmental and social benefits.
  • The development of new markets for innovative products and services through technological advancements.
  • The improvement of management information, a focus on business and supply chain risk, and better supplier relationships.
  • Competitive advantage as a consequence of the early adoption of practices, focusing on increasingly environmentally-focussed legislation.

Developing Sustainable Procurement Practice

The UK Task Force devised a National Action Plan to inform interested organisations to adopt a sustainable procurement strategy. In 2006, Procuring the Future was published to support public and sector organisations in taking their first steps in this burgeoning area of interest.

To help you, here are the central planks of the report established as recommendations for those who wanted to develop sound, achievable, sustainable procurement practice:

  • Be a beacon: Provide clear direction for both procurement and your supply base providing consistent leadership and policy-making on sustainable procurement issues.
  • Set the standard: Fully implement existing procurement policy and standards. and ensure these are extended across all procurement activity. This will improve performance and underline expectations, including the establishment of well understood minimum standards for your suppliers.
  • Prioritise: Rationalise existing procurement standards into a single integrated procurement framework, which covers both policy relevance and appropriateness.
  • Test: Filter and select new procurement policies to ensure they are enforceable, before considering implementation.
  • Develop capability: Ensure you and your team have the requisite professional skills to support the efficient deployment of sustainable procurement.
  • Tool up: Provide the appropriate tools, training and information resources to execute these standards.
  • Be ready: Ensure you already have the appropriate budgetary mechanisms in place, and that your spending and budgeting policies facilitate your sustainable procurement strategy.
  • Be proactive: Encourage openness to innovation and look proactively for opportunities to drive social benefits through your engagement with suppliers and the wider marketplace.

There is no doubt that the UK’s lead is now being adopted elsewhere, and that the global procurement community seeks to embrace a sustainable approach with an eye on good practice coupled with other significant business rewards.

Why Procurement Agility is Key to Avoiding Obsolescence

Organisations that don’t increase their procurement agility and harness the power of new technologies face obsolescence in the next few years.

Chris Sawchuk - Agility

Chris Sawchuk, fresh from Hackett’s own Best Practice Conference, took a look at what agility means, and why procurement needs to be more agile.

The Hackett Group believes agility is the defining trait of the procurement team of today and the future. More agile functions will be better positioned to respond to complex business problems, and adapt to the fast-changing business environment in which procurement exists.

As easy as it might be to talk about being more agile, putting it into practice requires leveraging of new tools and technologies, as well as ensuring that the procurement teams have the skills they require to carry out these strategies.

Growing Business Uncertainty

In 2016, companies are expecting to see business uncertainly and risk increase, along with greater struggles to grow revenue. So the pressure to reduce costs is increasing. At the same time, procurement leaders need to balance this with other, more strategic, priorities, like becoming a better strategic business partner.

Chris discussed how a confluence of high volatility, technology-led innovation, and hyper-competitive market conditions, has accelerated the rate of change in business to unprecedented levels. Agility is the key to success in this environment.

However, for many companies, agility just hasn’t been a priority in the past. Chris made the point that because agility isn’t an area that many CPOs focus on, procurement’s maturity in the area is only low to medium, leaving the procurement teams a step behind the rest of the organisation.

It’s not about a lack of understanding. Organisations are certainly talking about agility, but procurement either isn’t aligned with this strategy, or there’s a delay in alignment. People need to have the right mindset, and up until now, procurement hasn’t had this. And as we’ve said, a more uncertain environment means that procurement needs to be more agile. It’s time for procurement to catch up.

Role of Technology

Chris went on to talk about the concepts surrounding procurement agility. These functions have strategies in place to take advantage of technologies like the Cloud, and the Internet of Things, and are using other technology, like bots, to push their organisation on.

Procurement leaders are realising that higher-quality information can help them drive greater business value. Big data has been a game changer when it comes to customer analytics, offering an unprecedented ability to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. But procurement’s lack of maturity in market intelligence is a significant obstacle that must be overcome.

Becoming information-driven should be a primary focus area for procurement. The function must develop the tools and skills that will allow staff to apply market data and intelligence to decisions on spending and sourcing strategies. Creating deep, consultative working relationships with business leaders, demands that procurement bring this valuable expertise to the table.

Chris ended by outlining a path for procurement leaders to take in order to understand their department’s level of agility, and how to increase this agility in the future:

  1. Apply the agility test to your own service delivery model – determine where the gaps are and how it needs to change to support procurement’s evolving role.
  2. Take an honest inventory of procurement’s identity and culture – Is it an optimiser or an innovator? Is it operating seamlessly across cultural and geographical boundaries? Refresh recruiting, hiring and training with the idea that chaos is the new normal.
  3. Even for non-regulated businesses, risk forecasting and planning is a hallmark of agility – Evaluate your current risk management program not only for depth but speed and agility. Benchmark cycle times to strike the right balance.
  4. Invest in predictive capabilities, pilot emerging technology – Work towards expanding single function supplier networks into interconnected business communities.
  5. Consider outsourcing providers to help manage tail spend – Model the ROI on efficiency gains and compliance versus savings.

The message was clear – it’s critical for procurement to become more agile to avoid potential obsolescence in organisations. As Chris concluded, it’s not the strongest that survive, it’s not the fittest, but the most agile and adaptable.

Productivity in Pharma – Growing Next Level Procurement Skills

What are the skills required to drive next level procurement? This is what the Productivity-in-Pharma Procurement Think Tank aims to uncover.

Next level procurement

This is the fourth year that the Beyond Group is holding its Productivity-in-Pharma Think Tank and it’s just a few days away. On April 26 in Basel, Switzerland, the first session of this year’s event will bring together more than a dozen Pharma companies to discuss the most pressing issues facing procurement in the industry.

This year’s event is titled “Growing the skills needed to drive next level Procurement capabilities”.  It builds directly upon last year’s sessions, where the topic was “How does procurement step above its traditional role of price management, and build connections with other parts of the company, to drive even greater levels of productivity”.

From that discussion, senior leaders of procurement, representing a broad cross section of the Pharmaceutical world, recognised that in order for procurement to accomplish this feat, new skills, capabilities and knowledge were required. By general demand, the group suggested that this year’s topic tackle this issue head-on.

We divide our Think Tank into three, one day sessions that are spaced four to six weeks apart. Each session has a particular purpose. On day one we attempt to clearly define the topic we are discussing, on day two we delve into the substance of the issues and discuss options for meeting the challenges discovered on day 1.

Lastly, on day three we try to bring our learnings together to develop applicable takeaways that can be directly applied by our Think Tank attendees.

Building Intrapreneurialism

So what are those skills that teams will need in order to reach next level procurement, and equip them to face a future that is more complex, more unpredictable and laden with technological changes?

As experienced advisors to the industry, we hear more and more about organisations attempting to build agile skills into their procurement teams and imbue them with a greater sense of intrapreneurialism. There is also an increasing recognition that many procurement teams are unprepared for this rapidly changing future.

In addition specific business skills are becoming more and more important in the framework of the procurement function. Even more critical is the need to understand how effective procurement teams of today will identify, recruit and challenge the next generation of professionals.

This year we will specifically focus on skills for new roles and capabilities which are critical to position Procurement as an end-to-end contributor. This include:

  • Business Partnering
  • Cross-Functional Project Leadership
  • Alliance Management

These skills, which have been identified as critical for tomorrow’s business landscape, will leverage the function’s unique position internally and externally, and turn it into a magnet for high-potential talent, seeking to accelerate their career towards business leadership positions.

In order to advance this conversation, and provide the very highest level of content that will challenge our membership, we have teamed up with a group of experts from industry, consulting, HR/recruiting, and academic institutions to provide the fullest and most use insights and immediately applicable takeaways for our member companies.

Kicking off in Basel

We are proud to welcome to this unique conclave, Ernst & Young consulting, Langley Search, Customer Value Management, Old Street Labs and as out academic partner, The Fraunhofer Institute/Technical University of Dortmund.  Our media partner for this event is Procurious who will be following the events and challenging our membership to bring their best game to the table.

Our first session kicks off on April 26 in Basel Switzerland, with 13 of the 15 membership slots already confirmed. If you are in the Pharma procurement field and are interested please drop us a note at info@thebeyondgrp.com.

Productivity in Pharma - Giles BreaultGiles Breault, co-founder of The Beyond Group AG, is an acknowledged expert in the field of Global Procurement, Productivity and Offshoring/Outsourcing. He has strategic and operational experience in the Pharmaceuticals, Electronics, and Aviation industries.

Productivity in Pharma - Sammy RashedSammy Rashed, Principal and co-founder of The Beyond Group AG, is a procurement strategist and productivity advisor with 25 years experience in senior management, primarily focused in the Pharmaceutical industry. He has become a recognised thought leader on growing procurement into a broader productivity champion.

Collectively Addressing Procurement’s Blind Spots

Education, brand and taking calculated risks – our executive-led panel rounded the Big Ideas Summit off by discussing procurement’s blind spots.

Procurement's Blind Spots

What a way to finish the day. The aim behind the Big Ideas Summit was to challenge our delegates, and create tangible outcomes for them to take back to their organisations. Our senior panel did just that with their discussion on procurement’s blind spots.

Ambition, Strategy and Delivering Value

Mark Roberts, Global Procurement Capabilities Director at AB InBev, started by stating that unless procurement has the vision and ambition, the boundaries that are imposed on it will be out of its hands. Procurement needs to be more than it is today – at AB InBev procurement is starting to consider socially responsible actions of their $25 billion spend.

Dapo Ajayi, CPO at AstraZeneca, argued that procurement truly does have the ability to influence across the enterprise. In the pharmaceutical industry for example, procurement can assist with the speed of clinical studies. The profession’s remit is much broader than just about saving money, it has got to get into conversations about procurement’s strategic role in the organisation.

Chris Browne, CPO at The World Bank, talked about his organisation’s work with world’s poorest countries. The goal of the World Bank is to end extreme poverty, but working in some of the most fragile countries in the world. Currently, the biggest procurement spend is on a $8 billion project to build a solar plant in Morocco.

Chris also talked about his experience working on the government procurement reform in New Zealand, and then subsequently at the NZ Earthquake Commission following 2 devastating earthquakes in Christchurch. The EQC sprang into action following the earthquakes, stopped procurement regulations so people could do what they needed to do, and worked solely on the basis of delivering value and a service to the people on the ground. A very different way to procure, but just highlighting what’s possible.

  • What was your ‘ah ha’ moment from the day?

Dapo – Dapo said that the conversation around transparency has got her thinking about what else AZ could be doing in this area.

Mark – Mark also highlighted transparency. In the era of Wikileaks, people are just as interested in who are the greenest CPOs/CEOs. The other positive for Mark was in the use of the word ‘skunkworks’. The idea that procurement doesn’t need to look for empowerment to chase innovation, but just going and doing it.

Chris – Chris said that corruption is the single biggest issue facing procurement around the world. Linking back to IBM’s opening keynote, Chris highlighted the use cognitive technologies to look at the issue of beneficial ownership – who ultimately is benefitting from contracts being placed around the world.

For Chris, there was also the realisation that we are facing a new norm, in both procurement and society as a whole. Some of the things procurement professionals have taken for granted for past 20 years are likely to be eroded in next few years due to the advancements in technology.

  • What are procurement’s blind spots?

Dapo – Dapo put this question out to her global procurement colleagues at AZ. She argued that maybe we are all playing it safe, that procurement professionals are stuck in our box, with too much focus on savings. The blind spot for procurement was in seeing that a change of mindset was needed in order to make procurement more comfortable about dealing with the wider business.

Mark – For Mark, the blind spot came back to the issue of talent. The profession has used the ‘traditional’ sources, but we need to go beyond that. The other blind spot for Mark was whether or not procurement had enough ambition. Professionals need to be looking at the wider ‘why’ picture, and why what they are doing will benefit the wider business.

Chris – For Chris, the blind spot was how procurement are dealing with organisational lawyers. At the World bank, the lawyers have been taken out of the decision making process, but there is still a blind spot on how procurement works with legal teams, particularly when taking a calculated risk.

  • What do you think we can do as a collective to address issues?

Mark – This is a matter of education, education, education.

  1. Education of the bodies and media around the procurement organisation to give institutions and people a clear indication of what procurement stands for;
  2. Education of the potential talent pipeline, the people we want to bring into the function;
  3. Education of the people procurement already has, how to build on the competency level and what will be required next. Mark suggested that these skills would include relationship management, but also entrepreneurial spirit.

Dapo – Building on Mark’s comments, Dapo said that it was about brand, brand, brand. Addressing this can be helped by using social media, which provides a window into the profession. On social media, the procurement profession needs to create a platform that encourages people to tell the stories about great outcomes, rather than just talking about savings. Procurement has been traditionally poor at doing this, so we need a platform to help.

Chris – Chris highlighted that often procurement people are perceived as, and can be, a bit boring. As Dapo said, the profession needs to be talking about how we are making a broader contribution to the organisation, rather than just about procurement itself.

Gabe Perez – Our final comment came from the audience, and Gabe suggested the profession should draw a line in the sand, and look forward to where we want to go as a profession. People are seeing the value that procurement can offer, why it’s a great profession to work in.

According to Gabe, we should stop looking at what we know, and now look forward to what we are going to do in the future.

The session helped to bring to a close what was a fantastic event, filled with great ideas and thought leadership. However, as was commented on Twitter, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels – we need to put these ideas into practice, address procurement’s blind spots, and collectively drive real change in our organisations.

Don’t Let Procurement Be a Career Cul-de-Sac

The message from our Big Ideas Summit people panel discussion? Please don’t let procurement be a career cul-de-sac!

Career cul-de-sac

People remain one of the hottest, and toughest, topics for Procurement. Covering millennials, attraction and retention, employee value proposition, and Brand Procurement – this panel discussion had it all!

Featuring Lee Gudgeon from Reed Global Tom Derry, CEO, ISM; Lucy Harding, Odgers Berndtson; and Procurious’ 10,000th member, Siddharth Sharma – direct from KPMG India.

Here’s how the discussion unfolded:

Is the “millennial” generation all that different?  If so, what do you think, heads of procurement should be doing differently to attract and retain millennials?

Tom: As the proud father of three millennials, Tom believes the next generation of Procurement talent demand authenticity from their leaders, and are more socially conscious and aware.

“Millennials are looking for opportunities to be employed where their values are engaged, rather than just making a living. As managers, we need to understand that they want to work for companies who’s values they believe in. Patagonia is a company that gets this and has prospered as a result,” suggested Tom.

Lucy: While Lucy agreed millennials have different motivators and different values, she’s suspects that this is more about their stage of life and that we weren’t so different at that age.

Lucy also made the point that sustainability, social responsibility are not just issues for millennials – but that Gen X’s and Boomers want to work for companies they believe in too. Judging by the numerous head-nods around the room, our audience agrees.

Lee: From REED’s vantage point, the main differentiator between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is in the way Millennials want to access information. Rather than a corporate brochure, Millennials want a photo on Instagram or better still, a video of ‘what its like to work in the business”.

“HR needs to get smart about how they communicate Procurement’s value proposition using new technologies,” suggests Lee.

Interestingly, Lee also believes its not just millennials who are demanding great technology at work, but Procurement practitioners at every age and level.

“If procurement practitioners are going to deliver on expectations, they need to be equipped with the best technology – great systems are a huge and often overlooked – employee value proposition.”

Siddharth: Agreed that the issue is less about different values, and more about the avenues that are open to us to express views.

“What was done 20 years ago on paper, is now done on mobile,” said Sid.

Always a topic that ignites some passion, we threw the People discussion over to the audience. Some of our favourite, most controversial take-outs are shared below:

A rising star and our only true millennial in the audience, Mike Murphy O’Reilly, asked: Are we using the wrong word? Rather than millennials, are we really talking about Digital Natives?

For Mike at least, the difference is not so much in terms of values, but in the way we want to receive information and expectations we have of technology.

Anna Del Mar: Suggested that the real problem in attracting and retaining young talent lies with the ‘Frozen Middle’ which despite the energising and inspirational CPOs out there, can be a very unattractive to graduates coming through.

Cutting straight to the core as always, Gabe Perez offered the view that millennials, more than anything, are looking for opportunity. Linking back to his earlier presentation, Gabe warned: “Just like our supplier enablement processes and systems, we need to make sure our HR processes don’t make it more difficult for innovative, exciting talent prospects to get through the door in the first place!”

Tom Derry: Agreeing that a ‘frozen middle’ can exist in any organisation, Tom noted that leaders need to be able to make hard calls and make the necessary change needed to deliver.

Ever one of the most passionate procurement pros we’ve come, Helen MacKenzie asked: Are there enough Good News Stories about Procurement? Procurious loved Helen’s suggestion that perhaps we need a book, a movie, a TV-series about a Procurement Super Hero!

Wanting to know if these procurement issues are unique to procurement, Lance Younger asked: Is every function facing the same challenges as Procurement with respect to talent?

In response, Lucy Harding believes talent remains an issue for every part of the business but a rod we have made for our own backs: “We’ve created silos, and judge people on depth of vertical knowledge – creating narrow but deep skills.”

Adding: “We must challenge the notion that Procurement is a career cul-de-sac,” – a point widely picked up by Twitter.

Speaking on behalf of the professional association, Tom Derry believes that over any other function, Procurement has one unique advantage: We understand the upstream demand, the supplier, the structure of our industry, our market place – so if we capitalise on that and prepare to become GM of the business, or remain functional managers only – to our detriment.

And always delightfully controversial, Peter Smith, SpendMattersUK asked: So why is it still headline news when a CPO becomes CEO?

A good point neatly dealt with by Tom Derry: “That’s true but I believe things are shifting. Today, businesses compete on basis of their supply chains, and so I think we will see more examples of CPOs making the shift to the top job.”

Leveraging the Power of The Crowd

Fresh from my 15 minutes of fame in the Big Ideas film booth, here’s the gist of my Big Ideas video challenge (coming to Procurious soon!) about leveraging the power of the crowd.

The Crowd

Delivering innovation is top of the CEO’s growth agenda. Developing a creative culture, one in which ideas can be offered without fear and allowed to fail fast, is critical to this. But what tangible actions can we take to create this kind of culture? And how to distinguish between the ideas that bomb, and the ideas that pay?

Once a phenomenon amongst hoodie-wearing Silicon Valley “Coders”, hackathons are now being embraced by industries and organisations of all sizes, to crowd-source innovative ideas and create new product developments.

In fact, some of the most successful products we use today, such as Google Maps, were born from hackathons.

Precious Opportunities

The term itself can be misleading. Rather than some kind of subversive counter-security activity, hackathons are a crowd-sourcing, creative event, where organisations make enormous amounts of data available to teams. The teams, who are often working competitively, are dared to ‘think the unthinkable’ and brainstorm solutions.

Usually occurring over the course of one, or even several days, a hackathon is a rare and precious opportunity to work ‘on the business’ rather than ‘in the business’. Who wouldn’t agree that it’s hard to think ‘big’ when buried deep in the day-to-day minutiae?

By taking a day out to ‘think big’, innovation can be fostered and new ideas prototyped quickly, with the most commercially viable options being presented for further R&D. At these events, no idea is too “off the wall”, and every idea from every participant is considered equally and fairly, before any final decisions are made.

Hackathons are also an opportunity for different people and teams that might not otherwise meet, let a lone work together, to socialise, and share processes and skills.

Outside Comfort Zones

I think we can all be guilty of sitting inside our comfort zones. It is something that is all too frequently reinforced by silo-ed organisational structures, and misaligned incentives, between between departments.

The concept can also extend beyond the bounds of the business itself. As the interface between the business and the supply chain, Procurement has an important role to play in inviting suppliers and customers to take part, and contribute their thinking to the hackathon too. Think of it as the old ‘Supplier Day’ on steroids!

And finally, the combination of working quickly, working collaboratively, and working on something that isn’t necessarily within your traditional job scope, can not only lead to some Big Ideas, but can be enormously energising and intellectually stimulating.

So my message is, use the power of the crowd and hack your way to success!

Leading with Value – The Uber-ization of Procurement

Disruption in industries, heading towards major disruption in procurement too. Gabe Perez talks about the uber-ization of procurement.

Uber-ization of Procurement

We’re off to a flying start after lunch here at the Big Ideas Summit 2016. Sometimes a graveyard slot at conferences, Gabe Perez, Vice President, Strategy & Market Development at Coupa Software, got the audience energised discussing the disruption heading our way in procurement.

Gabe challenged our audience to start with the outcome, changing the way we traditionally look at going to the market as procurement professionals. The Uber-ization of procurement starts here, with a focus on value, rather than features.

Just What us ‘Uber-ization’?

Put simply, ‘Uber-ization’ is about being able to access value in real-time. In our personal lives, everything we need, we can get in real time – products within the hour from Amazon, cars from Uber, even setting up a site to sell our product on Etsy.

According to Gabe, you don’t have to do the same legacy tasks now in order to sell things. From selling or buying products, to driving a car for Uber, you just need to have a pulse! There is a new type of workforce, making money in ways that have never been imagined before.

In the real world, there’s little enablement. It’s totally the opposite in the business world, where we’re really just at the beginning in terms of this real-time penetration.

Issues in Procurement Technology

The biggest issue in procurement technology is that it is was originally developed and evaluated in a legacy way. That means is was evaluated on the features and functions, built for the organisational ‘power users’ years ago, and not with the best practice and innovation that is available in today’s economy in mind.

Gabe told the delegates that an RFP isn’t the best way to start. A better approach might be an RFV – a Request for Value. Procurement needs to start with the value proposition, and then work backwards, starting with who the best partner to achieve this outcome will be.

The issue for organisations is they are trying to do the same things over and over, not making any changes, and not making any difference. Features and functions shouldn’t be the focus, but the tools that allow procurement to get to value.

Organisations need to frame evaluations of procurement technology on the value delivered based on the business outcomes your organisation is looking to achieve.

Power of Networks

Gabe went on to talk about business networks, and involving more suppliers. The more companies, or “suppliers” procurement are connecting with, the more opportunities they have to leverage knowledge and expertise for innovation.

A lot of this innovation is coming from the suppliers in the ‘tail’, ones who are traditionally consolidated or ignored.

These smaller organisations don’t always have the opportunity to work with larger companies, thanks to traditional processes, protocols and business portals. All of this adds up to a higher business cost for small companies, making doing this work unprofitable.

There are so many processes and boxes to tick in most companies processes and evaluation, that small companies are out of the work at the beginning either because they did not get an opportunity, or did not see the value because of the cost of doing business.

Failing Networks

Business networks have historically failed in the supply chain, as they have been designed by the software vendor, with the vendor’s priorities and strategies in mind. They are not designed to be open networks, and because of this, they don’t drive value on both sides of the equation.

The other problem is that they only cover a fraction of the total number of suppliers worldwide. There are close to 200 million suppliers in the world. Traditional procurement methods and business networks only enable access to approximately 1 to 2 million, which is a dismal result.

An open network turns this on its head completely. What suppliers need is the simplest way to connect with buyers, other suppliers and collaborate with them. This is the key to unlocking innovation and value creation in the supply chain.

In a perfect world, there would be no user interface at all, but we need to open up the networks before we can get to that stage. And then we will have found the path to the Uber-ization of procurement.

Advancing the Social Value Cause

How can procurement help to advance the social value cause? Our thought leaders in the first Big Ideas panel tell us how.

social value cause

In the first panel of the day, our delegates grilled our social value and sustainable procurement experts on how procurement can advance the social value cause, and help to bust some myths around social enterprises.

Timo Worrall, Senior Category Manager FM EMEA, introduced the work that Johnson & Johnson are doing with their Social Value through Procurement. The organisation is aiming to spend 3 per cent of its total spend in the UK with social enterprises by 2020, as well as creating 150 jobs for people who are furthest from the job market today.

Peter Holbrook, CEO of Social Enterprise UK, talked more about his organisation’s announcement of the ‘Buy Social Corporate Challenge’. 10 major global organisations, including RBS, Santander and J&J, will commit to spending £1 billion social enterprises by 2020.

Lucy Siegle, journalist and broadcast, expanded on her keynote around the true cost of supply chains, and how we can change our consumer behaviour to help make greater, global change.

  • Do we think there is a shifting social attitude for social and sustainable procurement? – Tom Derry, ISM

Timo – Don’t assume that businesses aren’t interested in social value. We’re not involved to sell more products, it’s more about how we choose as an organisation to engage with our customers. The social value cause is larger than just a single programme, it’s part of a greater movement. I just hope that in 10 years we’re not talking about this as something new, but how we are all spending our money with social enterprises.

Peter – There is a new generation of products that people are getting involved with. I have a Fairphone – it’s the first smartphone in the world that is free from conflict minerals. It has a better spec than the iPhone, and it’s also half the price. The social value cause will also help organisations with recruitment and retention. Companies are realising that they need to make commitments, and make CSR part of their DNA, or millennials will go somewhere else to work.

Lucy – There is some aspirational research out there. Environmental and social value isn’t far off the idea of social consumers, but now there is more willingness to engage with brands. Companies can’t second guess the consumer wants, they need to be authentic and decide on their own values.

  • In the procurement world, measurement is based on cost reduction. Social value is not incentivised in corporate procurement – are companies changing their measurements to account for social value? – Gabe Perez, Coupa

Timo – Procurement are second guessing their corporate stakeholders, and what their stakeholders want. We have much more engagement around social enterprises at J&J, and are opening up new conversations with business stakeholders. Cost is still paramount, but we’re conscious that there still needs to be social value.

Peter – There is a rapidly growing industry around integrated reporting, particularly in the accountancy profession. They realise that this reporting will have voluntary or mandatory adoption in the coming years. Public procurement is beginning to adopt the social value cause. If we can encourage public procurement to take this on, then we can change practices in the rest of the organisations around the world. The change just needs to be faster.

Lucy – We all have our parts to play. Taking something like how stock is traded, how do people have the time to understand the wider impact of the businesses involved in the trades, when everything happens in under 10 seconds.

  • We work for a fundamentally corrupt profession. When we look at procurement across the globe, 30-40% of spend is lost through fraud and corruption. Where do you see the agenda going from fraud and corruption, to the social value agenda? – Chris Browne, The World Bank

Peter – There is a Social Value Innovation Unit at the World Bank, just so you know! One component of the change is transparency –  businesses need to be rewarded for transparency, for airing their dirty linen, as well as the glossy CSR agenda. The fraud economy is bringing together an alliance of organisations, all of whom want to get transparency into supply chains. We’re not moving fast enough though.

Fortune will favour the bold and the brave in this – you will attract the best talent, and win more business by leading this agenda.

  • There is a myth to bust that social enterprises cost more. How can we bust this? – Helen Mackenzie

Peter – Evidence has demonstrated that social enterprises out-innovate private sector, and are cheaper than them too, in 52 per cent of cases. The social value products are using materials that would have otherwise been discarded. Even my underwear is made by a social enterprise (Pants to Poverty)!

  • What Big Ideas are there to introduce authenticity and accountability into the social value process? Alex Kleiner, Coupa 

Timo – We use accreditation from the experts at Social Enterprise UK. You shouldn’t let it become a barrier to working with social enterprises – the story is much stronger than this.

Peter – Transparency, transparency, transparency is the key, we have to build it into the process. This is a road and journey that will be filled with challenges, but the future depends on it. Procurement are the new superheroes in this – they are the people who can deliver the sustainable procurement goals, and bring redundant materials into the supply chain.

Lucy – There will be mis-steps along the way. There needs to be more of a holistic view, right throughout the the supply chain. There is a lot more communication in the brand and the supply chain now.

Certainly an enlightening panel, with some very thought-provoking thinking from our experts (as well as finding out what kind of underwear our leaders wear…). Stay tuned for more from our experts, and more panel discussions, as the Big Ideas Summit 2016 progresses.

Harness the Power of Unstructured Data

Do we still need the smartest guys in the room if we have the smartest machine? IBM paint a vision for the future of procurement and the power of unstructured data.

Unstructured Data

“Are you going to be relevant in 3-5 years’ time?”

What a start to the day! Barry Ward, Senior Procurement Brand Manager at IBM Global Procurement, has just left the stage, leaving the assembled thought leaders with something big to think about.

Barry, a 27-year veteran in supply chain at IBM, is currently European lead for commercialising Procurement Analytic Solutions with IBM’s clients. This leaves him ideally positioned to provide context for all the discussions that will be happening throughout the day at Big Ideas.

Summarising the global business environment that procurement is currently operating in, Barry described a fast and relentless pace of change, major disruption across markets, and high levels of external upheaval.

Technology as a Disruptor

With increasingly stretched resources, organisations are being asked to do more with less, all the while trying to stay on top of information which, given a greater speed of dissemination, could quickly impact the brand and reputation of the company.

According to Ward, there are “mountains of data” available to organisations. However, as it’s 80 per cent unstructured, and needs sifted before use, it isn’t useful. Procurement needs to harness the power of this unstructured data. This is where the development of cognitive technology looks to be a boon to procurement.

The potential for these cognitive technologies, such as IBM’s own Watson, are just mind-blowing. As the technologies are developed, they will be able to do everything that a human can do, but in a fraction of the time. This is more than AI, it’s like have a computerised “colleague”.

Upskilling Procurement

These technologies will take over the manually intensive activities currently done in procurement, facilitating the ability for work to be carried out anywhere, at any time, in line with increasing mobile access and social collaboration.

The Watson Buying System is just one facet of this technology. IBM are at the stage of proof of concept of this technology. The system will assist with purchasing, based on needs of buyers. It can match pictures of items, or match speech too, to catalogues, and get goods bought for users and delivered anywhere it’s needed.

Systems will provide real-time data, showing potential risks in the supply chain, and how they are being mitigated. According to Barry, mitigating risk through predictive technology will no longer be a “nice to have”, but will become essential for organisations.

Procurement will play a major role in this cognitive revolution, using it to drive value-adding activities for the business, such as a focus on innovation. However, this will bring a challenge of ensuring that procurement have the correct skills to leverage this opportunity.

Procurement professionals will focus more on a data science-type role, as well as on SRM activities. Innovation will be found through building proper, collaborative relationships throughout the supply chain.

Challenge to CPOs

Barry ended by issuing 3 calls to action to procurement leaders:

  1. CPOs need to adjust the design of their organisation.
  2. Enabling success for procurement will be driven by using the right technology.
  3. Procurement needs to upskill in order to drive value-adds for the organisation.

There is no time to waste. There’s no time for incremental steps. As Barry says, it’s time for CPOs to be bold.